Specialized Services and Techniques
Within the practice of physical therapy, there are a multitude of specialized services and techniques to help those recovering from surgery or those dealing with an acute or chronic injury. Explore everything Foothills has to offer in the sections below.
If you’d like to learn more about how physical therapy can help you, please schedule a free Rapid Recovery® Injury Assessment at any of our convenient locations.
- Endurance Physical Therapy
Let’s face it…endurance athletes are different. It takes someone unique to find joy in running 26 miles or running cross-country for 100 miles. And yet, there has been an explosion in the number of people participating in endurance events in Arizona, so they might be onto something. At Foothills, we recognize that the needs of the endurance athlete are different and stopping isn’t an option. We offer unique and individualized treatment programs and utilize specialized techniques to keep you running, biking and enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle. Our physical therapists are often athletes themselves, so you’ll probably bump into a Foothills therapist pounding the pavement or grinding their gears on the weekend. RACE ON.
- FAST (Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training)
We strive to offer the full continuum of care, and FAST brings a new dimension to therapy by offering additional programs for those returning from injury, those looking to prevent injury, and those looking to advance their health and well-being.
- Sports Performance Training: Looking to become a better athlete or to take your athletic performance to the next level?
- Personal Training: This is the perfect opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone and achieve the fitness goals you’ve only dreamed of.
- Group Training: A program that allows you to improve your fitness level while sharing the experience with others who have similar goals.
- Functional Movement Screening (FMS)
FMS is a ranking/grading scale that documents movement patterns that are essential to normal function. By screening for these movement patterns, FMS identifies asymmetries and functional limitations displayed by the patient. The FMS generates a Functional Movement Screen score, which is used to target problems and track progress throughout your treatment program. The scoring system is used to determine which treatments will be most effective in restoring sound movement patterns.
Physical therapists and FAST professionals at Foothills use the FMS score to track progress and functional improvement and to identify corrective exercises that will be most beneficial to the individual’s movement and strength.
- Hand Therapy
We take our hands for granted, and often don’t realize that simple, daily activities like opening a door or getting dressed require the ability to grip, twist, turn and manipulate objects. It’s part of what makes us uniquely human – our hands. A hand, wrist or elbow injury can be devastating to a patient, athlete, or worker and these patients have specific needs related to their condition and recovery. Certified hand therapists (CHT’s) are physical or occupational therapists with extensive training and expertise in treating upper extremity injuries. Treatments include but aren’t limited to:
- Functional based exercise
- Hand Splinting – Dynamic and Static
- Scar/Edema management
- Desensitization techniques
- Injury Prevention Education
The foundation of the physical therapy profession is based upon theories of injury prevention. We strive to improve function and quality of movement, enhancing our patients’ lives. Your physical therapy sessions are geared towards your overall recovery and injury prevention education is a big piece of that puzzle.
Our therapists are also active in the community, and we give educational seminars promoting the benefits of physical therapy to sports clubs, senior centers, schools, and more.
- Massage Therapy
Who doesn’t like a good massage? Not only does it feel good, there are many physical and psychological benefits of massage therapy. Foothills offers massage therapy at several locations as a service to our patients. Packaged alone or as part of an overall rehabilitation program, massage therapy offers something for everyone as part of an overall wellness package. Ask your therapist if massage therapy would benefit you.
- Pediatric Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Our kids are our future, and they deserve the highest quality of care to maximize their potential. Injuries are not only scary for children, but also their parent. For those under the age of 21 with orthopedic injuries needing physical therapy, Foothills is the place to start recovery. Our therapists are expertly trained in pediatric orthopedic conditions (post-operative, acute injury, post-fracture/immobilization) so we can help your child achieve their maximum level of function and independence despite their injury. We work closely with parents to ensure pull-through at home and strive to make physical therapy fun for our younger patients. With our Sports Medicine-focused philosophy, we also partner with FAST sports performance trainers and athletic trainers in schools to ensure safe return to any activity or sport.
- Pediatric Physical Therapy (non-orthopedic)
Physical therapists work with patients of all ages from infants to the elderly. We have specialists that treat infants and toddlers with conditions including torticollis, leg-calve-perthes disease, developmental delay, hip dysplasia, hypotonia and hypertonia, club feet, idiopathic toe walkers, scoliosis, and post-operative conditions (including cancer). Treatments include:
- FES (Functional electrical stimulation)
- Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization
- Reflex stimulation
- NDT (Neurodevelopmental treatment)
- Cranial-sacral therapy
- Gait mechanics
- Family education
- Performing Arts Physical Therapy
Foothills physical therapy provides physical therapy and sports performance training to dancers, performing artists, cheerleaders, gymnasts and musicians. Our goal is to provide specific care to this specialized population using guided, specific return-to-activity and treatment techniques in order to provide timely and safe recovery. Itamar Stern, PT, owner of the Central Phoenix facility, serves as a valley-wide resource to the Foothills community due to his extensive experience treating dancers, ballerinas, and other performing artists.
- Postural Restoration
We use integrated manual and non-manual techniques to restore postural position and tone to a common pattern seen in all humans. We believe the key to injury prevention and treatment is restoration of faulty movement strategies and muscular imbalances. When imbalance occurs in the body, joints, bones and muscles are affected – resulting in pain and dysfunction. Foothills employs therapists certified in postural restoration through the Postural Restoration Institute (www.posturalrestoration.com) who will ensure your posture is strengthened and any pain related to postural issues is dealt with.
- Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment
Foothills offers Rapid Recovery Injury Assessments* for our community. This is your opportunity to schedule a free consultation with a licensed physical therapist to evaluate anything that is bothering you, from your nagging shoulder injury or the hip pain that is limiting your ability to go hiking.
*Does not apply for Medicare or Medicaid recipients.
- Senior After Care Program
Many of our patients are looking for options to continue their exercise and wellness programs after being discharged from formal physical therapy treatment. In an effort to provide options for our senior patients, several locations have collaborated with FAST to create group and private programs for patients wishing to continue what they’ve started in physical therapy. This is a fantastic option for seniors looking for a supervised program following discharge from physical therapy or for seniors looking for a program to contribute to their overall well-being and fitness.
- Spine Specialty (Manual Therapy)
“Hands-on” care means different things to different people, but we can all agree on the one thing that matters most – results. As evidence-based medicine has evolved, so have the recommendations for the evaluation and treatment of back pain. Physical therapy, including exercise, patient education and joint mobilization/manipulation, is recognized as the “first-line” option for patients with an acute episode of back pain.
Whether injured acutely or suffering from a chronic condition, you want to know that your physical therapist can use his/her hands, combined with their knowledge of human anatomy, neuroplasticity, and biomechanics to impart a reduction in pain and an improvement in function quickly, safely, and in a cost-effective manner. Foothills therapists advance their hands-on skills through specialization and continuing education to provide research based physical therapy interventions that lead to your recovery. Visit our specialized techniques page to read more about specific hands-on techniques offered at Foothills.
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint that connects your jaw (mandible) to the temporal bones of your skull. This joint allows you to move your jaw up, down and side to side, allowing you to chew, talk, and yawn. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be especially painful and debilitating for patients. Symptoms can include but aren’t limited to:
- Pain in the jaw, ear, neck when you chew or open your mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- “Locking” of the jaw in an open or closed position
- Clicking, popping or grating in the jaw when chewing or speaking that may be associated with discomfort
- Neck pain, headaches
Causes of TMD are sometimes unclear. TMD can result from trauma or a blow to the area, teeth-grinding, stress, a history of recent dental work, arthritis of the joint, or displacement of the disc within the joint. Oftentimes, the cause is multifactorial with upper cervical/postural contributions. Physical therapists specializing in TMD can assist you in addressing your immediate symptoms and working with you to address contributing factors.
- Vestibular Rehabilitation
Feeling dizzy or unbalanced can be extremely troubling to patients, and these symptoms often result in a loss of function and can severely limit enjoyment of daily activities. Foothills has locations and physical therapists that can help in cases of positional vertigo (BPPV), gait instability, motion sensitivity, cervical disorders and other balance related disorders. Additionally, as post-concussion syndrome continues to gain national attention, we continue to develop and implement post-concussion protocols in combination with national thought leaders and local physicians in the Phoenix area.
- Women’s Health
Foothills therapists have the unique needs of our female patients in mind, and we have experience in treating conditions that are specific to women. Whether suffering from post-partum low back pain or pregnancy-related back, neck, hip or leg pain, there are physical therapy interventions that can help you.
Additional conditions treated include:
- Pregnancy related back, neck, shoulder, wrist, leg pain
- Postural and positional deficits
- Post-partum back, neck, shoulder pain
- Post-partum diastasis recti, abdominal/core weakness
- General orthopedic or musculoskeletal conditions, not associated with pregnancy
Injuries can affect women differently from men because of anatomic, physiologic and hormonal differences, so your physical therapy interventions should be specific to you. We provide patient education on proper lifting, carrying, positioning, and proper exercises for your lifestyle.
- Workers’ Compensation
Foothills approaches the management of the injured worker the same way we would approach the treatment of any patient – with an emphasis on goals and a focus on getting them back to work safely and effectively. We are partners in your care and recognize some of the unique challenges faced by employers and payers who are looking for efficacious, cost-effective, and safe return to work strategies for their employees. All injured workers are evaluated by a physical therapist and a plan of care is developed and implemented that will minimize time off work and maximize functional recovery.
All Foothills locations accept patients covered under the Workers’ Compensation laws in Arizona.
- Cupping Therapy
Cupping therapy received a lot of attention during the 2016 Summer Olympics as purple and red circular bruises appeared on the back and shoulders of many famous athletes. These bruises were the result of “Cupping Therapy” which is a technique used for a variety of reasons, including rehabilitation from injury, pain management and the improvement of athletic performance.
What’s the process?
A plastic, silicone or glass but is placed over the skin and light suction lifts the tissue underneath. This is done using a heat source or a hand pump.
What is the effect?
The suction created by the vacuum effect increases the blood flow to the area, providing nutrients and oxygen to the tissues. It also helps to break up metabolic waste that accumulates during strenuous activities or following an injury or surgery. Increasing circulation and removing metabolic waste improves muscle function and reduces recovery time.
Additionally, cupping theoretically creates separation and movement between fascial layers. Fascia is the connective tissue that divides and surrounds muscular tissue. When fascia is restricted, it restricts range of motion, flexibility and performance. More studies are necessary to fully determine the efficacy of these claims.
Is Cupping for Everyone?
The simple answer is “no” as there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to healing and rehabilitation. The decision to utilize the cupping technique should be made after a thorough evaluation and discussion of the pros and cons with the patient. Informed consent should be given by the patient with a full understanding of the potential for side-effects such as bruising. In combination with a comprehensive physical therapy program, cupping therapy can provide benefits to speed your recovery.
- Dry Needling
Sometimes called trigger point dry needling (TDN), dry needling is a specialized technique that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and release underlying myofascial trigger points (muscular and connective tissues) for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain. Dry needling is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue to diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.
Dry Needling can be used for a wide variety of conditions, most often chronic in nature, including but not limited to:
- Cervicogenic headaches/migraines
- Neck pain
- Thoracic and low back pain
- Shoulder myofascial pain syndromes
- Lateral and medial epicondylitis
- Hip myofascial pain syndromes
- Hamstring, groin, gastrocnemius/soleus strains
- Fusionetics Human Performance System
Focused on the continuum of human performance – Move, Perform, Recover. (www.fusionetics.com)
We utilize an efficient implementation process across categories that allow each user to focus on application to deliver results and achieve goals.
- Standardized and efficient testing systems
- Engage and motivate users with gamified scoring and rankings
- Evaluate status, establish baselines, and track progress
- Real time scoring, infographics, and progress reporting
- Actionable analytics across multiple categories
- Measure and manage data to improve decision making and gain a competitive edge
- One-touch programming and customization
- Extended continuum of care across users
- Targeted interventions to improve every body
- Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
Patients love hands-on therapy and the feeling that they are receiving value for their investment in physical therapy. At Foothills, we understand this and offer a wide variety of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization techniques to kick start the healing process.
Below are descriptions of some commonly offered Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization techniques.
The ASTYM® system is an evidence based, non-invasive treatment program used to stimulate degenerative tissue and start the healing process by using specialized instruments to identify degenerative, scarred tissues. The intent of the ASTYM program is to rejuvenate damaged tissue from a sub-acute or chronic injury.
88% of patients reported reduced pain and improved function in outcome assessments after their physical therapist applied this hands-on treatment twice a week for 4-6 weeks.
Unlike other therapies, the ASTYM program also encourages the patient to stay active and continue to participate in their activity/sport while undergoing treatment. Combining appropriate movements and training, specific stretching programs, and ASTYM will maximize your recovery and keep you active in your sport.
Almost any acute or chronic musculoskeletal condition can be treated with the ASTYM program. Some examples include but are not limited to:
- Tendonitis/Tendonosis (Patellar tendon, Achilles tendon, Posterior Tibialis Tendon)
- Post-surgical scarring and fibrosis
- IT Band Syndrome
- Plantar Fasciitis
- SI, Low Back and Hip Pain
- Hamstring, Quad or Gastrocnemius/Soleus Strains
- Lateral or Medial Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow or Golfers Elbow)
The Graston Technique® is a soft-tissue release technique that uses six patented stainless steel instruments of different shapes and sizes to fit the body part. The instruments are used to detect and treat scar tissue and soft-tissue restrictions that may be contributing to a patient’s symptoms and limiting his or her ability to perform daily activites.
The treatment goal and process of the Graston Technique® is to first “break up” these adhesions by breaking down the collagen cross-links that have been formed, and then to realign them with proper stretching and strengthening. The Graston Technique® can be used through muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and on a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions such as:
- Tendonitis/Tendonosis (Patellar tendon, Achilles tendon, Posterior Tibial Tendon)
- Post-surgical scarring and fibrosis
- IT Band Syndrome
- Plantar Fasciitis
- SI, Low Back and Hip Pain
- Hamstring, Quad or Gastrocnemius/Soleus Strains
- Lateral or Medial Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow or Golfers Elbow)
- Gua Sha
Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese medical treatment technique that uses specialized instruments to help treat soft tissue and scar restrictions. It is also known as scraping.
- Kinesio Taping
Kinesio Taping exploded onto the scene during the 2012 summer Olympics when athletes were seen wearing multi-colored strips of tape on their bodies during competition. Since then, the Kinesio Taping method has grown in awareness and acceptance in the medical community. The taping technique is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process, while providing support and proprioceptive feedback for the wearer. It is able to assist in supporting and stabilizing the muscles and joints without restricting range of motion, unlike traditional taping techniques. The kinesio tape also results in a microscopic lifting of the skin, thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a reduction in inflammation in the affected area.
Many Foothills therapists have become certified in Kinesio Taping techniques and use it to treat a multitude of populations, from pediatric to geriatric patients with orthopedic, neuromuscular, and neurological conditions. Kinesio Taping is a new technique, so ongoing studies on its effectiveness are continuing. However, one thing is for sure – patients like how it feels and continue to ask for it because of their positive results.
- Myofascial/Trigger Point Release Therapy
Trigger points are discrete, focal, hyper-irritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. They produce pain locally in a referred pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. With over 30 years of collective experience, Foothills physical therapists specialize in the treatment and care of these soft tissue disorders. We utilize multiple treatment approaches consisting of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobililzation, Myofascial Release, Active Release Techniques, and deep tissue massages.
- Orthotic Fabrication
At the bottom of the lower extremity kinetic chain, the foot plays a key role in shock absorption and propulsion during walking and running. Many acute and chronic lower extremity musculoskeletal conditions can be attributed to a breakdown in the kinetic chain, beginning with the biomechanics of the foot striking the ground.
As experts in movement, physical therapists are essential evaluators of the breakdowns that occur in our patients. Specific to the lower extremity, physical therapists evaluate gait biomechanics and running mechanics and are in a key position to make footwear recommendations as well as recommendations on inserts or orthotics. Orthotics worn within the shoe can be bought “over the counter” or custom-made for the patient. Depending on your needs, we will either refer you to a trusted, reputable specialist who can fabricate your orthotics for you, or we will create a cast mold of your foot and work with an outside vendor to customize your orthotic fabrication. Of course, this will also be accompanied by a comprehensive exercise program tailored to your needs.